Q&A with Laurie Ward: Shiatsu and mental health

Contributed by Shaghayegh Tajvidi
Laurie is a member of the Shiatsu Association of Ontario, whose practitioners are considered the most highly trained therapists in North America. In this five-part Q & A series, she sheds light on the healing benefits of Shiatsu for chronic pain and shares transformative self-care tips for the digital age.
ST: Can you begin by differentiating Shiatsu from other forms of massage therapy that may be more readily on mainstream radar? What is something surprising about this form of bodywork?
LW: Shiatsu is a Japanese massage technique based on the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The massage is done clothed and no oil is used. Pressure is applied along the body using thumb, palm and elbow pressure. Perhaps the most surprising thing about shiatsu is that it feels amazing to the touch, with the added benefit of targeting internal problems, such as difficult digestion, painful menstruation, insomnia, etc., as in acupuncture.
ST: What ‘September survival tips’ would you offer students and parents to help them maintain wellbeing in the bustle of a new school semester?
LW: Take a deep breath, that’s the first thing! Don’t worry about what your neighbours and friends are doing. Set realistic expectations for your family and be OK with them changing throughout the year, as needs change.
ST: Some of your clients identify a key connection between your Shiatsu treatments and positive mental health benefits. How have people experienced relief beyond physical treatment?
LW: Often after a shiatsu session, I hear from clients that they feel like themselves again. This is because they are relaxed physically, mentally and emotionally. Sustained stress in ones life exacerbates health challenges and makes it harder to cope and deal with daily demands. The number one benefit shiatsu provides is relief from stress, which leads to a significantly better quality of life.

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